A silent sentinel


 Inventor Anne-Christine Hertz has developed a tool to assist patients with dementia. The patient sits on a stationary bicycle, which is positioned in front of a high-definition projection screen. As the patient pedals and steers, a computer displays street scenes from Google’s Street View program, allowing the person with dementia to safely simulate riding a bicycle through familiar environments from their past, such as their hometown. The combination of physical and mental stimulation appears to assist in the rejuvenation of memories and a reduction in dementia.

When I read of this I immediately thought of a city where I lived long ago. Pulling up Google Street View, 50-year-old memories reappeared. My newspaper route. Learning to ride a bicycle. Falling off the same bicycle and skinning up my knee. Being bitten by a dog, and not just any dog, but a giant Saint Bernard! Eating Thanksgiving turkey with my grandparents and listening to their stories by the fireplace.

Looking at the images from my old neighborhood, most of the houses looked about the same, albeit older, and trees were either larger or gone. But one thing caught my eye: an old, beat-up “telephone pole” right in front of our former house. Google allows you to look around and to “look up,” and when I did, the memory clicked. I had stared up at that pole before, a jumble of power and telephone wires. That pole looked pretty rough around the edges, but it was still standing there, doing its job, a silent sentinel to all that had passed over more than five decades.

I had to wonder, what had that pole witnessed?  Births and deaths of generations, success and failure, hope and despair, and through it all, the power continued to flow.

That’s how it is in the electric reliability business. It’s a long-term, capital-intensive business. We make decisions that affect how we will serve your home for decades — possibly well after we are gone. Power plants, wind and solar farms, substations, poles and wires are very costly, but they are built to serve generations. That’s why it’s important that we make the best decisions possible, and we do that with your help.

As a member-owned electric cooperative network, we are governed by boards of directors elected by the membership (that’s you) to approve of our plans. Directors meet monthly with the co-ops’ staff to review operations, maintenance, rates and human resources.

Maybe someday, a half-century from now, someone will see a photo that triggers fond memories of growing up with you. Until then, know that we will remain on the job, planning ahead, all with the goal of responsibly keeping the power provided for you and your descendants as reliable and affordable as possible.

(See http://theinstitute.ieee.org/ieee-roundup/blogs/blog/how-a-hightech-stationary-bicycle-can-help-patients-with-dementia for a great video on the technology.)http://theinstitute.ieee.org/ieee-roundup/blogs/blog/how-a-hightech-stationary-bicycle-can-help-patients-with-dementia for a great video on the technology

Duane Highley is president and CEO of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., (AECI) and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC). AECI, a statewide service co-op, and AECC, a wholesale power supply co-op, are owned by Arkansas’ 17 local distribution
co-ops, which provide retail electric service to more than 1 million members.